The Last Romantics: A Novel (Hardcover)
With over a century of life behind her, Fiona Skinner rests comfortably on her laurels as a poet of great renown. But when a young fan asks her a dangerously loaded question, she must peer far into the past for the answer. What follows is a slippery trail through a lifetime, and it seems even many years cannot dull the keen reach of memory. What choices do we make and why? What keeps us connected? What drives us apart? Here is a meditation on womanhood, loss, and the nature of family. If your sibling has ever warmed your heart—or broken it—this is for you. -Liz K.— From Spring Booknotes 2019
February 2019 Indie Next List
“Oh, my! I was so moved by this book it brought me to tears. Fiona, Renee, Catherine, and Joe invaded my imagination and kept me spellbound until the end. Siblings! Many of us have them and often don’t think about the nuances of our relationships. Conklin’s story brought my own siblings to mind and questions emerged that can’t be pursued on paper. Memories are such powerful things and affect our lives in compelling ways. There is so much love in this story. It’s absolutely wonderful! Please read it!”
— Stephanie Crowe, Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL
A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!
“A richly observed novel, both ambitious and welcoming.” -- Meg Wolitzer
An Instant New York Times Bestseller
Named a Best Book of the Month by Goodreads • Lithub • Refinery29 • InStyle • HelloGiggles • Real Simple • Parade • PureWow • Bustle
A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love.
When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.
It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected. Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love.
A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, The Last Romantics is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories—how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.
About the Author
Tara Conklin is the author of the New York Times bestseller The House Girl. Trained as a lawyer, she worked for an international human rights organization and as a litigator at a corporate law firm in London and New York. Her short fiction has appeared in the Bristol Prize Anthology, Pangea: An Anthology of Stories from Around the Globe, and This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home. She holds a BA in history from Yale University, a JD from New York University School of Law, and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School (Tufts University). She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her family.
“Tara Conklin is a generous writer who deftly brings us into the world of this fictional family, an engrossing and vivid place where I was happy to stay. The Last Romantics is a richly observed novel, both ambitious and welcoming.”
— Meg Wolitzer
“It is the strength and fragility of the siblings’ bond, the evolving nature of love that is at the core of Conklin’s novel....Gracefully rendered, The Last Romantics focuses on the familiar theme of family with great originality.”
— Washington Post
“Pick up The Last Romantics when you want to be swept into a fictional family....As the narrative traces [the Skinner siblings’] converging and diverging paths over the course of their lives—and promises made, kept, broken, changed—you’ll fall deeper and deeper in.”
“Conklin examines her characters’ lives with generosity and an unflinching eye for the complexities of love and family.... Fans of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections will find similar pleasures in the intelligence and empathy on display here.”
— USA Today (four stars)
“A modern epic...in the vein of Commonwealth, THE LAST ROMANTICS is a sweeping look at what binds families together.”
“Perfectly paced, affecting fiction.”
“An intimate, soul-searing examination of a modern family and the ties that bind, for better or worse.”
— Stefanie Hargreaves, Shelf Awareness Galley Love of the Week
— Shanina Piyarali, Shelf Awareness
“An absorbing and redemptive novel of grace, craft and heroic characters.”
— Berkshire Eagle
“A triumph of storytelling, an ambitious examination of the failures of love and how we, against all odds, find a way to survive.... A complex, resonant work that will reshape your understanding of family.”
— Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang
“All of the luxuriously spun characters in The Last Romantics, entwined via that impossible web we call family, unfold over their many years with the perfect balance of familiarity and wonder that makes turning their pages such a pleasure.”
— Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is
“There’s so much love and loss in this book that I read it with a box of tissues, laughing with astonishment through the tears. The kind of book you lose yourself in.”
— Lisa Gabriele, author of The Winters